Thursday, July 24, 2008

The benefits of breastfeeding

When I wrote about breastfeeding on this blog for the first time, the subject was near and dear to my heart, but still - purely theoretical. I had no idea that in a year I would already be married and expecting a baby. A lot of things have changed, but not my convictions about breastfeeding. I remain of the opinion that unless there's a strong medical reason not to breastfeed, breastfeeding is the best option for Mom and baby.

I think we are all familiar with arguments such as, "I didn't breastfeed/wasn't breastfed/know mothers who didn't breastfeed their babies - and they all turned out just fine". Yes, of course it's possible to "turn out just fine" with formula. That's what happens most of the time, otherwise all the formula companies would go bankrupt. However right now I'm not talking about what that, but about what is the best for a baby.

Mother's milk contains a balance of nutrients ideal for the baby, and gradually adjusts itself to the growing baby's needs. When the formula companies add this or that nutrient to their formula, they brag about it as if it's a remarkable innovation - but remember that no matter what they do, they will never be as good as mother's milk. In the first days after birth, breastfeeding has a vital influence on the baby's immune system. Breastfeeding is perfectly designed to encourage satiety signals in a baby at just the right time (which is why breastfed babies tend less towards being overfed). Mother's milk is safe, readily available at the perfect temperature, and is naturally given in a way that enhances bonding between mother and baby. To sum it up, it's designed by God, which means it will always beat man-made formula. Oh, and did I mention that it's free?

In the not-so-distant past, mothers knew that if they didn't succeed at nursing their babies, the alternative would probably be cow's milk, which really isn't a good option. Therefore, women did all in their power to breastfeed. I was born prematurely and couldn't nurse properly until I was about a month old. During all that time, my mother pumped milk for me and gave it to me in a bottle until I was ready to nurse. Here, she would probably be advised to give me formula. By the way, because she had a lot of milk, she was also able to give enough to another baby, whose mother couldn't breastfeed for medical reasons. The baby boy is now all grown up and lives in Israel.

So, you all know I have zero experience in breastfeeding, but I think a good deal depends on proper guidance - and lots of determination. And determination is difficult to keep when the option of easy feeding with formula pops up whenever there's a challenge. Baby doesn't feel like eating when hospital schedule says "feeding time"? Oh well. Instead of encouraging the mother to nurse whenever the baby shows signs of hunger, let's just give formula!.. A nursing relationship that is disrupted from the very first days doesn't get a good start.

It depends on the hospital policy, of course - some hospitals, I've heard, are amazingly baby-friendly and breastfeeding-friendly. Here, hospitals get lots of money from formula companies who want to promote their products. I might not have believed that before, but after spending a few months in one of the largest Israeli hospital, I saw it with my own eyes. Why do you think new mothers get free formula samples as they leave hospital with their baby? Certainly not for their benefit; the formula companies want to "plant" these samples to be used in a moment of weakness: middle of the night, an exhausted mother, a fussy, hungry baby who is having difficulties nursing, a natural powerful urge to feed the baby... after a few times, getting back to breastfeeding is more difficult, and the mother is forced to buy formula. You know what this reminds me of? Tactics of drug-dealers. They lure you with free samples because they know that if you accept them, later they'll have your hard-earned money!

Another concern to keep in mind is that the formula-making process is not immune to human mistakes and neglect. There have been cases when an essential nutrient wasn't added at all, or not in sufficient quantities. For a baby who is exclusively formula-fed, the consequences can be disastrous. A few years ago, a terrible tragedy occurred in Israel when a certain brand of formula didn't include a sufficient amount of Thiamine:

"Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, is vital for development of the nervous system in babies. Israeli Health Ministry officials say more than 20 infants suffered from a disorder caused by a deficiency in the vitamin after drinking the formula, and three have died."

I realize sometimes breastfeeding isn't possible - and in these cases, it's good we have formula. However I can't help but think that a large number of mothers who end up not breastfeeding, could have succeeded if the importance of breastfeeding was fully realized by their medical care providers.

I'm determined to do everything in my power for a successful nursing relationship, when time comes. Fortunately, I can get advice from women in my family who have successfully breastfed (such as my mother and mother-in-law). And there's always the option of seeking a lactation consultant.

For more information on the sinister tactics of formula companies and the damage they cause all over the world, read this article by Amy.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

You have a great attitude. Although breastfeeding is natural, it is often very difficult to get in the swing of things, especially with a first baby.

I breastfed all my kids, for a year to two. I haven't yet been at a hospital with a feeding schedule here in Israel; they all told me to feed on demand, although some suggested I wake baby up if s/he hadn't eaten for 4 hrs (I never woke mine).

You are right though, formula is absurdly easy to get at the hospital. Many women are tempted to use it as an easy way out. It takes a few days for the breast milk to 'come in'; meanwhile some babies want more than you can give. I remember I used to breastfeed for hours and still my baby would scream for more, so finally I'd give in and take a bottle from the nurse. Ahh...peace and quiet....I could sleep for two or three hours. It was heavenly. But I was always committed to breastfeeding and ensured the baby nursed for a long time first. I'm sure other women are tempted to use the bottle instead of the breast altogether.

One thing I regret with my last child. I should have been smarter; she's my fifth. I never introduced her to the bottle. She started eating foods at 5 months or so, but still relies on breastfeeding to fall asleep. And she still wakes up to breastfeed. The child is two!! What a mistake. These past 2 yrs, I could never go anywhere in the evening or at night, since I was attached by the breast.
Now that I want to wean her, it's so much tougher than weaning from the bottle. And it's becoming embarrassing (she lifts my shirt in public, saying'um um'....).
So personally, if I had to do it again (not that I'm planning to) I would make sure she had a bottle once every few days. That makes it so much easier to stop breastfeeding at age 1 or 1.5 (since you can give them a bottle of water or something nonsweet instead).

Laura said...

Hi Anna, I have never commented before, but really love reading your blog!

I think it's wonderful that you are determined to breastfeed. It may be that this sheer determination is what gets you through the first couple of weeks. I found with my first child, that the first two weeks were utterly horrible, with trying to get him latched on and then I wasn't doing it properly so he caused me to tear and bleed. So many times throughout those two weeks (especially in the middle of the night) I would be so ready to send my husband out to the store for some formula. I am so so glad I stuck it out though. Both of my babies were breastfed for six months and I am so glad I did not give up.

I really believe you need a lot of support though. It's so great that your mom and mother-in-law both breastfed; if someone close to you is pressuring you to use formula in the first difficult weeks, it would be so easy to cave in, I think. I don't know what I would have done without my mom, a close friend, and the public health nurse. They really got me through.

I just wanted to encourage you because breastfeeding does not always go smoothly with the first baby, but if you just persevere, then you will make it through the hard days. And by the time you have your second baby, you will be an old pro. :)

The Inept Aspirant said...

One of the biggest regrets I have with my children is that I never breastfed. My mother and grandmother never breastfed either, and it wasn't encouraged by my doctors. I was young and ignorant of the difference between formula and breastmilk. My oldest child was very colicky and we assumed the formula wasn't agreeing with her so we switched to a soy-based one. Now, of course, I know the dangers of soy; we are told that it is so healthy but because of the way it is processed it is really harmful. My poor children! I thank God for His grace and mercy. They are fine today but who knows the long-term health repurcussions from my mistakes? Surely God's way is best. I do have a question for other moms who breastfed- do breastfed babies ever get colic?

Erin_Coda said...

Here in the US, we sometimes have the opposite problem-- "Lactation Consultants" who are so zealous in their mission that they turn a fairly natural and instinctive process into a procedure that must be mastered at all costs, "or else". (The stories I could tell...)

Breast IS best, but there are times when the medical providers need to take their cues from the moms, and not the other way around.

Marianne said...

Hi Anna,

Again - Congratulations on your pregnancy.

I have a (almost) six-month old boy whom I've breastfed from the beginning. I had a couple of struggles. First, he was born via C-section. I was in the hospital for three days, but didn't see a lactation consultant until the last day, about two hours before I was discharged. By that time, he had lost a pound. I know all babies lose weight after birth, but it was 10% of his body weight and his pediatrician was very concerned. I had no idea he wasn't nursing correctly and the nurses and LC assumed I should have known this. So, I left the hospital having had major surgery with no clue what I was doing.

My second struggle was my mom's lack of support. Breastfeeding was not the norm in her family. Every one of my aunts and uncles on that side was "grossed out" by my breastfeeding. "Don't talk about it or do it in front of me." So, while I was supplementing my son with formula, I received all sorts of "encouragement" from my mom and her family to just give it up and bottle feed the baby. But, I've perservered.

I am heading back to work in two weeks and so my little guy will be staying with family and at a daycare. (I'm heartbroken about this.) Unfortunately, for me, pumping has been the hardest part of breastfeeding. I'm still going to do it until he's 1. It's the best for him and it's worth the naysayers and the struggles.

There wasn't much of a point to this comment, other than to say it can be difficult, but it's worth it, and I would do it all over again. (God-willing, I WILL do it all over again.)

Anonymous said...

of course breastfed babies get colic!
Also, I highly recommend using a natural cream to prevent the cracks and bleeding that can make nursing torture. Don't wait till it appears.

Anonymous said...

I think breastfeeding is God's way of a mother being able to feed her baby. However, I have to say to beware of getting your hopes up to the point that if it doesnt work out, that you end up feeling like a failure as a mother. I gave breastfeeding all I had, with the same hopes and expectations as you - I however, was a rare case where my body does not produce milk. And no, not because I didnt try - I tried to the point that my baby was literally starving and becaame jaundice from not getting food. It had something to do with the thyroid gland or something - not exactly sure what the medical reason was. I however, was SO pressured to breastfeed, that I was SO determined to do it, and when I physically could not do it, I was brokenhearted. I finally realized what mattered, was my baby's health and well-being. Not my own selfshis pride.
I think we must be careful about passing judgment on mothers who even choose NOT to breastfeed. We cant fully understand their reasons, and shouldnt be so quick to say they are doing something wrong.

Rosemary said...

I fully support breastfeeding, Anna. I am a retired La Leche League leader, and have been able to help many moms who have gotten a little off track. The biggest problem is moms being urged to introduce a bottle of formula now and then. It is usually a downward spiral from there. When I had my first child, we were all alone in a new country. I was away from all family, so, once out of hospital, no one was telling me "the babe is hungry, try a bottle." I persevered with breastfeeding. I hope to help my daughters and daughter-in-laws successfully feed their babes-to-be.

Anonymous said...

I wish I had had better help when I had my babies. I knew that breastfeeding was best for both mom and baby, I just didn't know how to do it. Neither my mother nor my grandmother breastfed their babies. My grandmother wasn't able to and my mother chose not to breastfeed. I believe if I had had an older more experienced woman to talk to I would have breastfed my babies. I gave up prematurely because I thought they weren't getting enough to eat! Sheesh.
Jen in OK

Mrs. McG said...

Outside of your own firm commitment, I think that a husband's support is extremely important to breastfeed successfully. If he encourages you it can be really helpful during the initial struggle to breastfeed. (Not all babies are easy peasy :) )

ROSIE said...

Dear Anna,

I recently happened upon your blog and have become a regular reader. I appreciate the gentleness, courtesy and humility with which you share your thoughts!

You are in my prayers for a healthy pregnancy, a safe and easy delivery, and a very successful breastfeeding relationship. I breastfed all four of my children for at least one year, and I could write for hours about all the wonderful benefits for both the children and my own health (breastfeeding taught me to not neglect to care for myself, rest, eat properly, and stay hydrated--things that tired mothers of young babies easily forget to do; also, nursing for at least six months drastically reduces the risk of breast cancer, which runs in my mother's family).

I worked for some time as a lactation consultant. Although I am in America and you are in Israel, I'm happy to send any help that I can via e-mail once you start nursing. I have done this for other friends; we jokingly called it "E-Milk"!

It sounds like you're already off to a wonderful start, educating yourself and being committed to this intimate relationship between mother and child.

About me...I am married to a wonderful, loving husband who just retired from the Navy after 20 years of active duty and now works as an electrician. I am the mother of four beautiful souls, age 14, 9, 8, and 3. I am also step-mother to five more, between the ages of 17 and 10! I believe that a woman has a very precious and unique role within God's design for the family, and as the one who sustains/nourishes/blesses the hearth.

I am an herbalist, aromatherapist, and currently also a nursing student. I believe in an integrative/holistic model for healthcare that focuses on prevention.

I love to knit, sew, paint, write, garden, cook, read, blog (http://goingruralinthesouth.blogspot.com), and create!

After having grown up in cities for the majority of my life, both all over the States and abroad, I now live with my husband in a small rural town in Southern Mississippi. This environment has really brought my focus on simplicity, frugality, and sustainability to the forefront.

Again, Anna, thank you for sharing!

Rosie

Anonymous said...

Anna,

I want to share with you that even though hospitals (and here in the US, doctor's offices) give "free" samples, no one is under obligation to take them.

My dh and I had to undergo fertiliity treatments to have our dd. When I was finally six weeks pregnant and ready to "graduate" to a regular prenatal provider, the fertility clinic tried to give me a sample of prenatal vitamins with some teaching materials provided by Enfamil (Mead Johnson.) I refused the sample. They looked at me in horror and said that no one had ever declined their sample and tried to give me a speech about how great the materials inside were. I told them that that might be true, but the information was available elsewhere and that I did not want their sample. I have also heard from others that signing up for "baby clubs" and especially indicating that you plan to breastfeed, in the US at least, is likely to bring on "free samples." I have been told that moms who are going to breastfeed are more likely to get samples and moms who indicate that they are going to use formula get coupons. The supposed rational is that moms who breastfeed at least some are more likely to use formula up to 12 months--many moms who start with formula switch to cow's milk sooner. So actually more money can be made from those moms they can convince to switch to formula.

I work a bit in a OB unit in a hospital. The formula reps are constantly bringing goodies (usually food) for the staff. I politely refuse. The staff has their favorite rep, and even though we are not to show preference, many staff will say privately if mom's have no preference, they will try to lead them toward the product of their favorite rep. That's what the goodies are "buying."

I have never regreted the effort it took to convince my dd to nurse and am so plesed that I did all I could to give her the best start in life.

J in VA

Mrs. Mordecai said...

I was so grateful to be able to nurse my son for seven months. It is so comforting to know you're doing what's best for your child, and it was so nice to not have to prepare bottles and buy formula.

On the other end of the spectrum, I had to have some radiation to destroy my thyroid when my son was seven months old and I was sograteful for formula. Of course, it was right after we had given all our free formula away to the food bank. :)

Heather said...

Anna- It is wonderful that you are planning on breastfeeding, but please do not look down on us who are unable to breastfeed for one reason or another.

I am unable to due to medications that I have to take on a daily basis. They pass through and are unsafe for baby. I did look into not taking them, but again that wasn't an option for me. So please remember those who would have liked to but couldn't. Not all women who bottle feed do because they are against breastfeeding.

God Bless
Heather

Scrapqueen said...

I love your blog. Congratulations on the baby! Breastfeeding was my favorite time with my daughter. I was glad that the hospital I gave birth in encouraged breastfeeding. My mother however thought it was awful that I would do that. My daughter was born two months premature and wasn't gaining weight so I did suppliment using a dropper with formula. But I was encourage to continue breastfeeding. I was blessed that she never had nipple confusion like some babies can have. Just don't give up no matter how tired or hard it may be.

closettherapist said...

Anna, I wanted you to know that I awarded you a Premio Award. I wrote about you on my blog and hope that many readers will link to you so you can spread your anti-feminist ideas to them as well.

tales_from_the_crib said...

Yes breastfeeding can be hard. I found that having a supportive husband was very important. One who was willing to let the process work itself out and not push the quick fix solution.
The nurses in our hospital started in on the "but he's jaundiced and it'll clear up much faster if you just supplement." Based on his numbers he was only mildly jaundiced. We took the formula mostly to get the nurses to leave, but nursed when they left, and nursed at home. He cleared up fine with just nursing in about a week.
I think you did an excellent job talking about the benefits for the baby from nursing. However, one thing you did not mention in is all the physical benefits to the mother. It is known to be helpful in encouraging the uterus to return swiftly and correctly to a size and shape more similar to prepregnancy. This reduces bleeding, chances for infection and speeds the healing process from birth. Gradual child lead weaning is additionally a practically painless process whereas (I've heard)letting your milk go dry as it comes in can be terribly painful. There are other benefits as well, but at the moment they slip my mind.
Hope that all is well with you and your family.

Betsy said...

Here is a link for truly healthy baby formula to be used in case of a mother absolutely unable to breastfeed. Scroll down and there are several articles on how to make the formula (three versions), information on safety and the how to's of homemade formula. For a testimonial, my nephew has been drinking this formula since he was three months old because his mother just couldn't produce enough milk for him, and he is happy and healthy. I've always breastfed my children if but if I ever cannot, there is no way I would use the dead processed fake food of commercial formulas, I'd use these made from real, living ingredients.

http://westonaprice.org/children/index.html

lady jane said...

Most of my friends breastfeed/breastfed their children which I think is awesome!

I wasn't able to breastfeed (anti-siezure meds which would have been unwise to transfer via breastmilk) but even with bottle feeding I made sure I did a couple things:

* I never propped a bottle. I certainly couldn't remove my breast while my child fed, so why remove myself from holding the bottle for my baby?

* Whenever modestly possible, skin to skin contact while your child takes a bottle. This is much easier in the privacy of home of course.

A dear friend of mine breastfed her child. While the experience was completely pleasurable, she found that she wasn't producing enough milk. After many visits (over a 2 month period) to a lactation consultant, failure to thrive was the pediatrician's final diagnosis. My friend and her husband made the decision to supplement with formula which helped their child to begin growing.

I realize that a number of women don't feel a personal necessity to breastfeed. Others have a medical reason not to breastfeed. Still others don't have family experience with the concept and as such, zero support. We should all be careful in not assuming the reason(s), coming alongside in love and encouragement rather than condemnation.

As a nervous new mom who wasn't able to breastfeed due to medical reasons, a couple devoted Le Leche ladies gave me grief for not nursing. They had no idea my reasons. They were not receptive to learning more about my situation.

I'm not saying anyone has condemned, just offering my thoughts just in case.

Kate said...

Oh, Anna!

lol at the Drug Dealer analogy! So true...made me start thinking about other "freebies".

:-) Kate.

Kate said...

Oh, Anna!

lol at the Drug Dealer analogy! So true...made me start thinking about other "freebies".

:-) Kate.

Aelwyn said...

I breastfed my daughter for two years. There were times when I wanted to give up because, for me, it was very painful. Some advocates will say that the pain goes away in about a month as you toughen up. My OB/GYN said that there are some people that it never gets easier for. It took me about 9 months. Fortunately, I have a wonderful husband who reminded me that parenthood is about sacrifice for the benefit of the child. That is something U.S. society has trouble with - any kind of self-denial. I am very happy that I stuck it out. I actually now miss the closeness that it gave my daughter and myself.

Rosa said...

My sisters and I were breastfed- the two of them, exclusively. As for me, I was in the hospital for a while after birth and my mother couldn't always be there to feed me (life goes on, you know?). So she pumped, and they used a bit of formula too. I was a very scrawnie preemie and was in to gain weight.

Apparently she sent my dad off to the hospital with a cooler full of pumped milk for me, except he left it on the roof of the car!

Anonymous said...

They're learning new things all the time about breastmilk, & the act of breastfeeding. It was hard for me, at first, to get the hang of nursing my first baby. In fact, it actually hurt! But I persevered, & I'm not the least sorry I did. Good, cheap, ultra-nourishing, always warm, always available. I believe you won't be sorry, Anna, that you at least try to breastfeed. :o)

Brenda

Anonymous said...

Hey Anna,

AMEN! I have two babies that are exactly two years apart. I was told while pregnant with the first that I should not breast feed. She was taken from me at birth and put in the Intensive Care Unit and I was told she wouldn't breast feed. I pumped and pumped for her until she was cleared to nurse and it made all the difference. I was told to start her on solids at three months, she became ill. From that point on, due to that advice from a doctor and him refusing to listen to me I went with much prayer and my gut. This saved her life twice.

I found that nursing on demand was the best (they need to nurse more when it is hot, they are fighting a sickness, are sick, teething and they have growth spurts and need to nurse as much as they want to build your milk). I also nursed when the baby was having painful medical proceedures (shots, etc) and my baby didn't even cry.

I slowly introduced healthy food and taught my daughter that if we were out and I said no to nursing she could drink water and have a light snack until we got home about 11 months). Then we started nursing just three times a day and were down to maybe twice (mainly before bed) before I had my second baby. To many people's and doctors shock and amazement I nursed my first daughter while pregnant with my second without any problems.

Pumping screwed up my milk so I stayed away from it. la leche league and askdrsears were life savers. baby crying gotta go

many blessings:)
ace

Julia said...

How wonderful that you are thinking ahead and are so firm in your convictions.

Conventional wisdom is that epidurals and other pain managing drugs do not cross over and affect the baby. I would not be surprised if they found that it did. A slightly drugged up baby probably could have a harder time nursing.

I had my son in the hospital. I was treated like it was very unusual to want an unmedicated birth. When I first nursed him, the nurses told me he was surprisingly good at it for a newborn. Coincidence? I can't say for sure, but I think there is a link. I did have two unmedicated births and nursing came very naturally both times. I wish you the very best in this area. Breastfeeding was one of the most special, wonderful things I've ever done in my life.

Andrea said...

Another insightful post, Anna! I love your attitude-- that breastfeeding is undeniably best for the baby, but is not always possible.

I feel very strongly about this because a friend of mine dearly wanted to breastfeed her baby boy, but she simply couldn't produce enough milk for him to thrive. She continued to pump as much as she could as a supplement to his formula but her supply dried up completely after a couple months. Yes, he did "turn out just fine" and is today a thriving, active three year old, but that success in no way lessened my friend's grief, deep regret and her feelings of intense self-reproach as she struggled to confront the fact that, for some reason the doctors were unable to determine, she simply couldn't produce enough to feed her son. (On a positive note, our local hospital is extremely pro-breastfeeding and offer every imaginable support for new mothers who want to breastfeed. They have a lactation consultant, instructive courses and hands-on seminars for both parents-- everything possible to encourage mothers in their first few weeks of feeding. Although my friend was unable to feed her son the way she wished to, she was still given every imaginable support and resource during this time, and it did help a little).

I guess I just get unspeakably angry when women in cases such as my friend's are castigated or treated as if they were somehow less than fully female for simply being unable to do what they want most-- provide nourishment for their babies. Your balanced attitude toward this is once again a real breath of fresh air when I come in from a minefield of extremism!

Julie said...

To the "inept aspirant"... YES, unfortunately, even BF babies can get colic (but we survived it!)

Anna,

I agree with you whole-heartedly that breast-feeding is best for babies. I bf'ed all three of mine and am glad I persevered through the first awkward/difficult days or weeks with each one.

One caution I would give you is that there are, indeed, women who cannot BF. I think the statistics are something like 5% in peace-time, and up around 15% in war-time, but the actual numbers don't matter so much.

What matters is that while we encourage each other to persevere in what may be a difficult task (though hopefully not :0)! ), we recognize that how we feed our babies isn't the measure of our motherhood.

There are many (like the Lactation Consultants where I live) who have gained an unfortunate reputation as "Boob Nazi's" due to the pressure they put on women to BF. Some new moms have come away in tears, feeling like they won't be able to properly "bond" with their babies, or their babies will be nutritionally deprived if they are not successful at BFing.

Again, I am ALL FOR breast-feeding :0) It is healthy for mom and baby, it is comforting for both, it's convenient, and it is a great bonding experience.

Just keeping it in perspective,

Julie

Anonymous said...

Before I had a baby, I was pro pro pro breastfeeding. I knew how good it was, the nutritional aspect, the bonding, everything. I was determined I was breastfeeding.

Well, the first child just refused to stay latched on. Oh that hurt - on off on off on off. Add a traumatic delivery that ended in a c-section. Pain above, pain below, I just couldn't take it anymore.

Then the second child was born. I was GONNA STICK WITH IT this time. This little boy latched on like a vice clamp. Even with perfect latch-on (yes, I was observed), I would have to hit my foot on the floor at each suck to cope with the painful vice-like grip - even after a month if felt the same. And then he was never satisfied, too hungry. My husband gave me no support, and when I wasn't looking, would give him formula. I was angry at him, I was coping with a c-section recovery and in pain, I was tired, the baby was hungry, and I caved. The bottle won. So this is a very emotive subject for me.

Its in the category of "you can sing its praises if you've never done it".

The same with labour: I read ALL the good labour and delivery books. How to prepare, how to avoid drugs and intervention, bring a CD player, your own quilt from home, a nice oil burner, choose birthing positions that assist gravity,etc type stuff. I chose a natural birth centre. When I got there I screamed for drugs. They laughed at me, but you wanted a natural birth? they said. I was yelling for the pain.

I was bitterly disappointed. I wanted a nice natural birth, I wanted everything the books said I could have. I was traumatised and I was disappointed to the max. Eight hours of severe pain ended in a C-section anyway.

BUT very importantly, I had a baby.

I finally conceded that, you know what? I was not having a "birth", I was having a "baby", and that is what I got :-)

My children are beautiful and I am blessed beyond measure, and I take the best care of them I possibly can.

Learn everything you can, but sometimes the pregnancy books are full of idealistic crap.

Olivia

Melian said...

I absolutely agree that breastfeeding is far superior to formula. I shared some of my experience in a previous post, but think that it bears repeating. One thing I'd like to mention is that, while rare, it does sometimes happen that a mother is not physically able to breastfeed her child. I did everything that I could, everything suggested to me by extremely pro-breastfeeding medical professionals, lactation consultants and fellow moms. My supply simply wasn't sufficient. I nursed around the clock, I pumped, I trie diet changes, took herbal and medical supplements, and still could never get more than an ounce of milk out of both breasts over several hours. When my baby began losing weight and becoming dehydrated, at less than 2 weeks old, we had to supplement with formula to save her life. I know that there are those who would criticize me for that choice, and I was heartbroken to make it, but it was clear to everyone closely involved that it was, at that point, the "best thing" to make sure that the baby was fed. She thrived on formula, though my meager milk supply dwindled completely. I'm thankful that she got the benefits of breast milk in the first few weeks, and I will do everything possible to nurse the child that I'm expecting. As hard as I try, if I am not able to, I will struggle with guilt that I couldn't do something as simple as "feed my baby" the way "my body is intended to." I wasn't prepared for the guilt last time, in reading over and over about how any loving mother would choose breastfeeding. Or about the incredible additional financial cost of formula.

I think you are so wise to think these things through in advance, and I pray that your experience is positive and wonderful. I've heard from successful friends that it takes a while for breastfeeding to become natural. I wish I had had the time to find out. Hang in there!

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, breastfeeding seems to be the one area where very conservative women and very feminist women agree. Breastfeeding is an important feminist issue. Feminists are very involved in promoting greater tolerance of public breastfeeding and greater accommodations for women at work and elsewhere who need to breastfeed or pump breast milk.

Along with you and with my fellow feminists, I wholeheartedly agree that breastfeeding is probably the ideal for babies and that mothers should be supported when they desire to breastfeed and pump milk. That having been said, I also wholeheartedly support women who choose not to breastfeed. Breast may be best, but formula will feed your baby too, and I am sure many women have many good reasons to choose the bottle. Ultimately, we can't be ideal in all our childraising decisions without driving ourselves batty. Good parents focus on their children's well-being but also manage to balance the needs of their children with their own needs as well (a practice that I think is ultimately better for children than totally subordinating the parent's needs to the child's in all instances).

-- Pendragon

Karen said...

I like your comparison of formula companies with drug dealers lol. So true!

My 2nd child and I had a great nursing relationship from the beginning which went on until she was 13 1/2 months, and I got pregnant.

I could add a lot, but I think one really important thing is make sure your pediatrician is pro-breastfeeding!! I wish I had! It is true if there is any little problem (baby is cranky, baby's not perfectly in the middle of the growth chart, ect) they suggest formula!

I wish I had had more information, encouragement and support with my first child. I quit after 4 months because of thrush, which was painful and took forever to heal, but I often think I gave up too easily. I didn't know that if you give a baby too many bottles, they are likely to begin to prefer the bottle and refuse to nurse!

So with my 2nd child I learned ways of soothing the pain and was more determined to nurse through it. Well you live and learn!

Jan said...

Don't think of breastfeeding as needing a look of determination. For some it is as easy and natural as walking and eating. I breastfed all my kiddos and the only problem I ever had was nurses thinking I couldn't do it! Relax and enjoy your upcoming baby.

Dixie said...

Anna,
Congratulations!!! Breastfeeding is a wonderful lovely experience. I breastfed my daughters with little difficulty. It truly is designed by God to be best for mommy and baby. I truly had the easiest time.. I think because I was young and didn't know that I could have a difficult time! Go into it with a relaxed attitude and you will do just fine. Much happiness to you!

Dixie from Nevada

MarkyMark said...

It never ceases to amaze me that humans, in all their arrogance & hubris, think that they can outdo God! That which God created, e.g. natural foods, mother's milk, etc. is ALWAYS better than anything we can come up with-duh...